BROWARD (CBSMiami) – The Broward County Commission is moving forward with the next steps in creating a new board that would allow members of the community to review police procedures and questionable policies.
At their meeting Tuesday, several people called in to voice their support for the proposed oversight board.
“Having the opportunity for Broward County to pass this ordinance is not only a necessary first step, it is absolutely overdue,” said one caller. “No occupation is above accountability. If local police officers truly serve all people in a community, then they should be held accountable by that community.”
National cases, including the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, spurred those in Broward County to demand change.
There are also local incidents that have drawn criticism, including a woman hit with the rubber bullet in downtown Fort Lauderdale during a Black Lives Matter Protest, as well as teenager Delucca Rolle getting beat by an officer during arrest.
“Broward County residents are all too familiar with the never ending pain and suffering that comes from incidents of police misconduct or excessive use of force,” said Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who called in to the meeting.
The commission made it clear, however, their power is limited due to state law.
“This is in no way an investigative unit that can bring punitive actions to a police officer,” explains Commissioner Barbara Sharief. “The only thing this board can do is to help bridge community relations and to help to bring forth those voices of the community, where they would like to see change in police policy.”
According to the proposal, they do have the power to make recommendations on current practices, hold public hearings, make recommendations, and review documents.
There was discussion over whether or not to allow law enforcement on the board.
“I don’t see how you can talk about best practices and improving on things without someone there that actually does it,” noted Commissioner Michael Udine.
Ultimately it was decided that two of the 23 total members would be law enforcement – the Broward Sheriff or his representative and the head of the Broward Chiefs of Police. Other members include a Black Lives Matter representative, member of the ACLU, lawyers, and a religious leader.
The goal is to bridge the divide between police and the people they serve.
“It’s action time, and this is action,” says Mayor Dale Holness. “Limited action as it may be.”
The decision is not yet finalized. It is up for discussion and a vote at their next meeting on Oct. 20.